Inflatable Paddle Board VS Solid Board - Which One's Better | SUP Tips

Table of contents

1. What Are Solid Paddle Boards?
2. What Are Inflatable Paddle Boards?
3. Consider Key Factors: Inflatable vs Solid SUP
3.1 Portability
3.2 Performance
3.3 Durability
3.4 Storage
3.5 Maintenance and Repair
3.6 Cost

Inflatable Paddle Board VS Solid Board

Paddle Board Inflatable 

Now that you’re ready to try your first ride in the water, so, what’s on your mind? Before buying a new SUP in the market, beginners probably face the question of inflatable paddle board vs solid paddle boards -- which is better? 

The short answer? Both inflatable and solid paddle boards offer their own distinct advantages and disadvantages that set them apart. Which one is right for you depend on how you intend to use it. However, there are some key differences that we can help guide you through. In the end, the choice is yours as there are a lot of subjective aspects to consider.

Paddle Board Inflatable

What Are Solid Paddle Boards?

Hard paddle boards are often considered the traditional board, also commonly referred to as epoxy boards. The main material or the base material is foam, the foam is then enclosed in solid material. The reason for including foam as the core material is to create buoyancy, this is what enables the board to float. On the same note, the hard SUP boards are finished with an epoxy coat to make them waterproof. They can be quite tough but they are more likely to get cracks or crushes from impact than an inflatable.

Hard paddle boards are renowned for speed and being agile in the water. The fiberglass shape cuts through the water seamlessly. So, they’re best suited for SUP surfing, long-distance paddling, and race performance.

Paddle Board Inflatable

 

 

What Are Inflatable Paddle Boards?

Inflatable paddle boards have been exploding in popularity over the last few years. Before we start, let’s clear up a few things about iSUPs. The iSUP has PVC layers joined with fibers connecting the top layer and the bottom layer. In addition, there is a valve to attach a pump and inflate the board. 

For the average person, it takes about 10 minutes to pump up a board. When fully inflated to the recommended PSI level, the board is super rigid and stable, which is a perfect choice for beginners learning paddle board and also adventurers discovering new locations. 

Paddle Board Inflatable

Consider Key Factors: Inflatable vs Solid SUP

Portability

When considering a paddle board inflatable vs solid by portability, the inflatable board leads. You don’t need any special car racks or tie-downs to transport them. An inflatable board could be compressed and packed down so you are able to toss it in a closet when not in use, throw it in your car for a road trip, or check it in for a flight. But you will need a large car or car racks when transporting hard paddle boards. 

In addition, damages and dings are more likely to happen in transit to the water than actually when in use. Where portability is concerned, inflatable boards are the ultimate choice. They’re easy to move around, and you’re less likely to damage your gear in the process.

Paddle Board Inflatable
 

Goosehill Sailor Touring Inflatable Paddle Board

Performance

Performance can mean a lot of different things based on your lifestyle, which should play a key role in your choice. A hard SUP generally gives a greater performance in speed and maneuverability. The water-cutting qualities make them great for SUP surfing and racing. However, inflatable paddle boards have come a long way and now offer much better performance than they used to, some iSUP manufacturers are closing the gap.

if you're planning to spend most of your time practicing SUP yoga or fishing, you'll find an inflatable paddle board provides a highly versatile flat, wide surface, which makes it more stable than hard board. While the performance of hard paddle boards and inflatables are different, that doesn’t mean one is better than the other.

Paddle Board Inflatable
 

Durability

we generally believe that inflatable SUPs are more durable than solid boards, at least when it comes to collisions. Quality inflatables are made from military-grade PVC materials, so it won’t dent or scratch. You won’t have to worry about riverbeds creeping into the shallow waters or accidentally knocking it when setting up for a paddle. This also makes inflatable boards perfect for white water paddling or paddling rocky rivers. However, if your hard paddle board hits an object with a hard surface, this often results in scratches or holes that are difficult to repair.

Paddle Board Inflatable
 

Storage

When deciding between an inflatable or a hard paddle board, it’s important to consider how much storage space your home has. If you have minimal storage space, an inflatable board will be your best option as it takes up very little space, so you can store it in any corner of your home. 

While hard paddle boards are suitable for homes with a basement or garage. They are longer in size and need more room for storage. You may not consider buying it if you’re staying in a single-room apartment.

Paddle Board Inflatable
 

Maintenance and Repair

The maintenance and repair process may not be one of the first things people think about. However, it pays off to consider how you will keep on top of any damage. Most inflatable paddle boards still include a ‘patch kit’, but on a good inflatable, it is seldom needed, usually the result of significant impact with a sharp rock or object. Inflatables are easier to repair especially if the hole is small. 

While hard paddle boards tend to scratch or dent easily and they’re more difficult to repair than inflatables. Remember to always wash off saltwater from both inflatable and hard paddle boards for good maintenance practice.

Cost

The price of a SUP is affected by various factors. Overall, the average inflatable will be less expensive than the average rigid board. This is because it’s a longer process for manufacturing, and shipping and handling costs are higher. If you’re a recreational paddler, an entry-level rigid or inflatable board is fine. Though beware of cheaply-made boards, as a less expensive inflatable board will sacrifice performance, features, or durability.

Between the inflatable paddle board vs solid stand up paddle boards, you can now choose the one that will meet your needs in the best way possible. If you are unsure of what type of paddle board to get, inflatable paddle boards are always a great option, especially for beginners. As they are highly versatile and offer great stability, comfort, and portability. Check out our guide on how to choose your stand-up paddle board if you need more advice on which board to go for.

 

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